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Songs of Wood and Steel

Los Lobos's David Hidalgo and Los Cenzontles create Mexican-American roots music mixing blues with traditional music

Published on LatinoLA: September 21, 2008


Songs of Wood and Steel


David Hidalgo, legendary guitarist/singer of Los Lobos, has co-produced with Grammy-winning producer Eugene Rodriguez, "Songs of Wood and Steel" by Los Cenzontles with David Hidalgo. Los Cenzontles is the touring group of the acclaimed Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center in San Francisco. The album revives the improvisation and anarchy of authentic Mexican music, presenting it traditionally at one moment then fusing it with rock and blues at another, reflecting the chaos and energy of contemporary Mexican American culture.

"Songs of Wood and Steel" includes original and traditional songs in English and Spanish and features guest performances from Linda Ronstadt, the Estrada Brothers, Mexican roots fiddler Julian Gonzalez and the 4 singers and musicians of Los Cenzontles. Hildalgo sings and plays keyboards, steel and electric guitar and traditional instruments such as guiro guitarron and jarocho on the album.

When asked about Los Cenzontles commitment to keeping Mexican musical traditions alive, Hildalgo said, "What they are doing is beautiful for the community and it's out of love and respect for the culture and the legacy of the music. It is really important and I am happy to do whatever I can to keep it going."

The Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center was formed in 1989 by Rodriguez, and provides training and performing opportunities in traditional Mexican roots music for singers, instrumentalists and dancers ages l0-25. The touring group has recorded more than l7 cds, 2 of which were on famed folk label Arhoolie Records, and toured throughout the US and Mexico. Los Cenzontles first met Hidalgo in 1994 when Rodriguez produced Papa Lulo's Dream, the Grammy winning children's album by Los Lobos, on which the group performed. They also performed on the Los Lobos Kiko and Lavender Moon tours in 2005-2006.

"David is a legend among musicians," said Rodriguez. "We share a long friendship and our lives have numerous parallels. David and Los Lobos are from the tough urban center of East Los Angeles and Los Cenzontles are from another, the streets of San Pablo/Richmond, so we are brothers. He is at the top of his game, yet has maintained his humility and humanity. It's amazing he has taken this time to play with us. "

"Songs of Wood and Steel" was recorded at Los Cenzontles Mexican Art Center in February.

"Vivir", A documentary about the center and the recording sessions with Hidalgo, will be released later this year.

For more information on Los Cenzontles, visit twww.myspace.com/themockingbirds

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